Fréart de Chambray, Roland
Errard, Charles
Jollain, François

Parallèle de l’architecture antique et de la moderne... Seconde édition augmentée des piedestaux...
Imprint Paris, F. Jollain, 1689
Subject Orders
Consult in image mode
Transcribed version of the text


     Thirteen years after the death of Roland Fréart de Chambray, François Jollain the elder, “merchant engraver”, took the initiative to republish the Parallèle de l’architecture antique et de la moderne. According to him, readers had been expecting this new edition for more than thirty years due to the fact that the first one had been out of print since it came out and that “the scarcity of the book made for an excessive price” (Préface). Fréart de Chambray, according to him, was “almost the first to introduce this grand manner in France, which gives few parts to the main members of each Order; but large ones and in deep relief, so that the eye, seeing nothing small, the imagination was more acutely touched by it”. In other words Chambray was the first theoretician of the classical orders, the same ones used by the Mansart, Le Vau and Le Mercier in the great building sites in Paris and the Île de France.
The special feature of Jollain’s edition compared with the original edition is that it is engraved (text and images), except for the first pages consisting of the preface and the title page. At the beginning of the preface Jollain specifies that he will organize his ideas in a different way than the author’s, nevertheless keeping close to his sentiments and his expression. At the end he justifies taking liberty “shortening several things that Monsieur de Chambray had said in too many words” in order to “reduce the price of this book, by avoiding printing costs”. On the other hand he allowed himself to add a pedestal for each order “by the best authors”. Thus the folio edition published in 1689 is revised, abridged and enlarged version of the Parallèle. It is a manual on the orders for the use of practitioners and master-masons, of the same kind as the Regles des cinq ordres by Vignola “revised, enlarged and reduced” produced by Le Muet in 1632.
In 1689 there is no longer the portrait de Sublet de Noyers on the frontispiece, Fréart de Chambray’s dedication to his brothers, or the privilege. In his preface Jollain drew on the text of the foreword in an abridged version and followed it with the text from chapter 6 of the original edition, greatly reduced, in which Chambray introduced and judged the ten authors he had chosen. Finally he ironed out the separation between Greek and Roman orders, the subject of two distinct parts, which made for the inherent originality of the book; one hundred pages of text and illustrations follow one another from there on without significant separations or chapter numbers, with a very abridged text (uneven page) and an illustration (even page). The engravings were done over; the ones representing the antique orders are all inverted except for the Persian order. But for each order, at the end of the remarks, pedestals were added according to eight authors: Palladio, Scamozzi, Vignola and Serlio are the subjects of one text and one single plate, then Cataneo, Viola, Bullant and De l’Orme take up the following two pages (text and illustrations). These eight authors were kept for the Doric and Ionic orders, but only Palladio, Scamozzi, Vignola and Serlio for the Corinthian, Tuscan and composite orders. Curiously at the end of the book in the “Explication des Termes de l’architecture” these elements were added: the Doric profile according to Vitruvius and the profile of the Corinthian order of the Temple of the Dioscuri in Rome (p. 96).
Because of this, the Parallèle, a political and controversial book, which Sublet de Noyers commissioned his cousin to write in order to put architecture back on the right track, was reduced to being an effective and handy manual on the most beautiful antique and modern orders, a catalogue of models with explanatory notes for the practitioner longing for inspiration. Choosing, sometimes arbitrarily, one module to unify the illustrations constituted an impeccable presentation of the orders, but an unfortunate consequence was to obscure the original thought.
Less obvious remain the primacy of the Greek orders, the superiority of the Ancients over the Moderns and, judging by the number of pages devoted to them, the excellence of the architects retained. Lastly, all the criticism on the composite, a hybrid and monstrous order, was done away with.
François Jollain’s edition is less a moralized Parallèle than a “modernized” and simplified one intended for foremen. Despite the fact that a commercial goal was not denied and without being part of the editorial policy of those in power, illustrated among others, by Claude Perrault’s editions of the Vitruvius (1673, 1674, 1684) and the Ordonnance des cinq espèces de colonnes (1683), or the Édifices antiques by Antoine Desgodets (1682), this edition proves the destiny of the Parallèle, read from then on as a collection of models. Its publication was added to Le Muet’s edition of the reduced and enlarged Vignola.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours)– 2011

Critical bibliography

R. Fréart de Chambray, Parallèle de l’architecture antique avec la moderne (Paris, 1650), Critical edition by F. Lemerle, followed by the Idée de la perfection de la peinture, compiled by M. Stanic, Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 2005.

F. Lemerle, "Fréart de Chambray : les enjeux du Parallèle", XVIIe siècle, 196, 1997, pp. 419-453.

F. Lemerle, "Une querelle des Anciens et des Modernes en architecture: Fréart de Chambray", Travaux de Littérature, 12, 1999, pp. 37-47.

F. Lemerle, "À l’origine du palladianisme européen : Pierre Le Muet et Roland Fréart de Chambray", Revue de l'art, 178, 2012-4, pp. 43-47.

F. Lemerle, "Le Parallèle et l’Idée", É. Lavezzi (ed.), Lectures de l’Idée de la perfection de la peinture, forthcoming.

A. Palladio, Les quatre livres de l’architecture d’Andrea Palladio, Translated by R. Fréart de Chambray, Introduction by F. Lemerle, Paris, Flammarion, 2002 (1rst ed.: Paris, Flammarion, 1997).